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Al-Qaeda-claimed attack in Yemeni capital kills 52

Associated Press . Aden, Yemen

Militants stormed the Defence Ministry in the heart of Yemen’s capital on Thursday, killing 52 people, including at least seven foreigners, in a suicide car bombing and assault by gunmen. The brazen attack claimed by al-Qaeda’s local branch in Yemen follows a rise in US drone strikes in this key American ally in the Middle East.
Meanwhile, Yemeni security officials say clashes in the capital have left five suspected militants and one member of the special forces dead, as security forces launch an operation to find the perpetrators of the attack on the country’s Defence Ministry that killed 52 people including at least seven foreigners.
The officials said on Friday the gunbattles happened over the past 24 hours as security forces raided several homes in the ministry’s vicinity. During the Thursday attack, which also involved a suicide car bomb, the ministry came under heavy gunfire from nearby houses.
The two-stage operation came as the defence minister was in Washington for talks. The US military increased its regional alert status after the attack and is ‘fully prepared to support our Yemeni partners,’ a senior US defence official said.
At least 167 people were wounded, nine seriously, in the bombing and fierce firefight, which underscored the ability of insurgents to take advantage of Yemen’s instability and tenuous security — even at the headquarters of its military.
Among the dead at the Defence Ministry complex, which also houses a military hospital, were soldiers and civilians, including seven foreigners — two aid workers from Germany, two doctors from Vietnam, two nurses from the Philippines and a nurse from India, according to Yemen’s Supreme Security Commission, which issued the casualty figures. Among the Yemeni civilians killed were a doctor and a senior judge, it said.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s media arm, al-Mallahem, claimed the attack early Friday morning on its Twitter account, saying it targeted the Defence Ministry building because it ‘accommodates drone control rooms and American experts.’ It said security headquarters used by the Americans in their war are ‘legitimate targets.’
It was the deadliest attack in Sanaa since May 2012.
The US considers the Yemeni al-Qaeda branch to be the most active in the world. In recent months, Washington has sharply escalated drone attacks against the militants in the impoverished nation. US forces also have been training and arming Yemeni special forces, and exchanging intelligence with the central government.

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